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CHAPTER 7: PRESIDENTIAL SELECTION PROCESS STUDY GUIDE (G2)

                                                                   Revised, February 23, 2004, 6 p.m.

          (PAGES, not in Gitelson text: 280-286, 290-296, 302-320, *316, 328, 330-332, and 1-3, 9F, 10F, 204, 291F)

 

Note: the selection process is the same for both major parties and minor parties.

 

I.  NOMINATION BY POLITICAL PARTIES (p. 311-315)


 

            Step A: The selection of delegates by each party in each state. There are three different

methods used to select delegates. State law determines which of the three methods

 will be used. The first method used extensively by political parties in the selection of

candidates for national office was the party caucus (also called the smoke-filled room method).

All states now use the primary election to select at least some candidates for public office.

Primaries to choose convention delegates began as a reform of the Progressive Movement.

                        A third method is the State Convention. This method of selecting candidates

                        was initiated before the Civil War by Andrew Jackson and was adopted by the

                        major national parties for the process of selecting convention delegates. The

process of selecting convention delegates takes place from February through June.

According to state law, some parties may use the majority decision rule,

the plurality decision rule (winner-take-all) or the proportional representation (PR)

decision rule to determine how many delegates candidate for nomination receives.

                        (PAGES not in Gitelson text: 2, 204, 280-284, 293-295, 303, 304, 311-315.)

 

                        Answer the following questions:

A1.   What are the three methods used to select delegates?

A2.   Which method of delegate selection was used first? 

A3.   Which method of delegate selection did Andrew Jackson initiate?

A4.   Which method was a reform of the Progressive Movement?

A5.   When does the selection of delegates take place?

A6.   What determines the method of selection for each state?

           
 

I.  NOMINATION BY POLITICAL PARTIES (p. 311-315)
 

Step B: The National Presidential Nominating Convention. There are several 

                        functions of a Convention. The convention delegates from each state 

                        and U.S. territory choose the party’s presidential nominee. The nominee then suggests

a vice- presidential nominee whom the delegates always nominate. Delegates also write

                        the party’s platform (a declaration of principles, policies and goals) Conventions also function to

rally party activists and to create party solidarity. Conventions take place during July and September,

and make decisions by the majority decision rule (requiring at least one more than half the votes).

                        (PAGES not in Gitelson text: 2, 204, 280-284, 293-295, 303, 304, 311-315.) 

 

                        Answer the following questions:

B7.   Who selects the nominee for vice-president?

B8.   What is a platform?

B9.   Who chooses a party’s nominee?

B10. Name four functions of a Nominating Convention.

B11. When does the Presidential Nominating Convention take place?

B12. What decision rule is used by the Convention?

B13. What is the majority decision rule?

 

II.  SELECTION AMONG PARTY NOMINEES AND INDEPENDENTS (316-318)

 

 

Step C: The Popular Vote in each state and Washington D.C. determines choice of the

                        winning slate (or list) of electors. Voters in each state cast their votes from among the party

                        nominees and independents named on their ballots, but they are actually choosing among slates (lists)

                        of candidates to serve as state electors. The total number of electors is 538. This includes one elector 

                        for each member of the U.S. House of Representatives (435), one elector for each United States

                        Senator (100), and 3 electors for Washington D.C. (the number of people serving in Congress from

                        the least populated state). Simply put, a state receives the same number of electors as it 

                        has members of Congress. Therefore, the most populated states have most  electors and most influence

on an election, but the least populated states also have more electors and influence on an election than

they would have if population alone determined their power. The popular vote takes place in November.

The winning slate of electors in each state is determined by the plurality decision rule

(requiring more votes than any other candidate’s slate, however; not a majority).

(PAGES not in Gitelson text: 9F, 10F, 280-282, 291F, 316-318.)

 

                        Answer the following questions:

C14. What is the plurality decision rule?

C15. Who is actually being voted for in a popular vote?

C16. How many electors are designated for Washington D.C.?

C17. What is the total number of electors?

C18. How many electors are designated for the number of Senators?

C19. How many electors are designated for the number of House Representatives?

C20. What determines the number of electors a state will have?

C21. When does the popular vote take place?

C22. Which decision rule is used in the popular vote?

II.  SELECTION AMONG PARTY NOMINEES AND INDEPENDENTS (316-318)

 

Step D: The Electoral Vote in each state capitol and Washington D.C. 270 electors

                        are needed by one candidate to win the presidency (538 electors divided by 

                        2+1 = 270, the majority required to elect the president). All states, except 

                        Maine and Nebraska, operate under a unit rule, which means the candidate

                        who gets the most popular votes (plurality) receives all the electoral

                        votes (unanimity) from that state. At times there is the occurrence of a faithless

                        elector (an elector who doesn’t vote for the nominee he or she pledged to vote

                        for). This has happened in 1968, 1976, 1980, and 2000, but is generally rare. If no 

                        nominee receives 270 or more electoral votes, then the House of Representatives

chooses the president [step 5]. The electoral vote takes place in December.

The winner is determined by the majority decision rule.

(PAGES not in Gitelson text: 282, 303, 316.)

 

                        Answer the following questions:

D23. Where does the electoral vote take place in each state?

D24. What is the number of a state's electors equal to (see Step C, above)?

D25. What is the minimum number of electors a state has (see Step C, above)?

D26. Is a states' population the only thing that determines the number of its electors?

D27. Would you expect a heavily populated state to have more electors than a sparsely populated state?

D28. How many electors are needed for a nominee to win the presidency?

D29. If a nominee receives half of the electors, would he become President?

D30. What is a faithless elector?

D31. Who decides the presidency if no nominee receives a majority?

D32. What is the unit rule?

D33. When does the electoral vote take place?

D34. How is a majority different from a plurality?

 

II.  SELECTION AMONG PARTY NOMINEES AND INDEPENDENTS (316-318)

 
 

            Step E: The House of Representatives votes [IF NECESSARY ]. Only if no candidate

                        wins 270 or more electoral votes does this occur. One vote is allocated to each 

                        state (50), and all of the Representatives from each state can submit only one vote. 

                        Using the majority decision rule, 26 votes are needed by one candidate to win 

                        the presidency.. As a historical note, this step has only been needed 

                        twice to decide presidential elections (Jefferson vs. Burr[1800], and Adams vs.

                        Jackson [1824]). Minor parties or independents may hold the balance of power

                        by taking crucial votes from the major parties. The House vote takes place in 

                        January. (PAGES not in Gitelson text: 282, 303, 316.)

                         

                        Answer the following questions:

E35. How many votes does each state receive in the House to decide 

  an election for President?

E36. How many votes does a nominee need when the House decides an 

  election for President?

E37. Who may hold the balance of power in the House vote for President?

E38. When does the House of Representatives vote for President?

E39. What decision rule is used when the House votes for President?

E40. Is the election process different for major and minor parties?